The speciation of antimony is strongly influenced by its oxidation state (V, III, 0, –III). Redox processes under anaerobic groundwater conditions may therefore greatly alter the environmental behaviour of Sb. Employing X-ray absorption and photoelectron spectroscopy, we show here that Sb(V) is reduced to Sb(III) by magnetite and mackinawite, two ubiquitous Fe(II)-containing minerals, while Sb(III) is not reduced further. At the surface of magnetite, Sb(III) forms a highly symmetrical sorption complex at the position otherwise occupied by tetrahedral Fe(III). The Sb(V) reduction increases with pH, and at pH values >6.5 Sb(V) is completely reduced to Sb(III) within 30 days. In contrast, at the mackinawite surface, Sb(V) is completely reduced across a wide pH range and within 1 h. The Sb(V) reduction proceeds solely by oxidation of surface Fe(II), while the oxidation state of sulphide is conserved. Independent of whether Sb(V) or Sb(III) was added, an amorphous or nano-particulate SbS3-like solid formed.

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